INDIA — It was reported in the media that rampant exam cheating in India has forced some states in India to enact “anti-copying” laws.

Last month (Feb 2023), Uttarakhand, a north Indian state, legislated an anti-copying law described as the “country’s strictest”. It will apply to all competitive exams in the state.

Those involved in leaking papers could face a fine of up to 100 million rupees as well as life imprisonment, while individuals cheating in examinations could be jailed for three years and fined 500,000 rupees.

Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, where as many as 11 papers were leaked in the past 11 years, also enacted a similar law last month, while the state of Rajasthan did so last March.

In Uttarakhand, where multiple government recruitment drives were cancelled due to leaks in its civil service exams in recent years, they have hurriedly enacted the laws after protests broke out in early February.

Last month, Indian police arrested the owner of a coaching centre in Uttarakhand, for allegedly selling leaked civil service exam papers in 2018. He was said to have sold the leaked papers to students for 1.9 million rupees each. As many as 66, or about a quarter of the roughly 250 candidates who cleared the exam, came from his centre.

Not surprisingly, government officials would also be involved in the leak since the money was lucrative.

Three senior government officials were arrested in Uttarakhand last October for involving in the leaks of civil service exam papers in 2016. One of the 3 arrested was a former chairman of the Uttarakhand Subordinate Service Selection Commission, which conducts these exams.

Rampant exam cheating in schools

Cases of exam cheating in schools are also rampant in India. One of the high profile cases involved cheating at the national level in 2018. At the time, the Indian government launched an inquiry into its national school exams after questions were leaked, forcing 1.6 million high school students to resit their tests.
The exams were crucial for students hoping to secure admission in some of the India’s most prestigious public universities.


The mathematics and economics papers were leaked via WhatsApp before the exam. Police in the capital Delhi said they had questioned more than 30 people, including college students and tutorial centre owners, in connection with the leak.

And in 2015, around 300 people were arrested and 750 students expelled in the northern state of Bihar after parents and friends of students were photographed climbing school walls to pass on answers during school exams.

Even exams in the so-called prestigious Indian public universities are mired in rampant frauds.

Two months ago (Jan 2023), it was reported in the mainstream media of India that students who were not even registered at the Madhya Pradesh Medical Science University were able to pass exams at the university.

While hearing a petition against an alleged marksheet scam at the Madhya Pradesh Medical Science University, the High Court ordered the state government to conduct an official inquiry. In compliance with the orders, the state government constituted a committee headed by a retired judge to look into the issue.

The committee indeed later found anomalies in the university medical exams.

On the issue of students who were not even enrolled but appeared and even passed exams, the committee noted, “All three i.e., college, university and IT agency have acted hand in gloves in this mischief. It is unbelievable that in the garb of making correction in the application form for taking part in examination altogether, complete changes are made and a person who was not even a student in the college and never shown as admitted and enrolled in the university is permitted to take part in the final examination.”

Sensing that there may be more such cases, a query was made about the agency engaged in printing marksheets.

The committee further noted, “This sort of acting is nothing but a fraud with the whole system and in fact there is an apprehension that there may be more persons roaming with the forged degree obtained from the university in various subjects in the field of medical science which needs verification.”

Meanwhile, with regard to the culture of rampant cheating in exams in India, senior advocate and an activist on education-related issues, Ashok Agarwal, commented, “Just having a law is not the solution. You will punish a few, but that will not solve the problem.”

“The whole government machinery has to be cleansed and set in order – those who set the paper, the printing process and its transportation to the exam centre,” he added.

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